Sunday, July 15, 2012

Internet privacy

I will go into detail later on the many implications it would carry to let governments and police departments to be able to track our individual activities online. In the meantime, I have a few comments and question for you.

While almost everyone protests or has something to argue, or at least comment, when we hear the news that our lawmakers have a proposal to allow governments to be able to eavesdrop on our online activities, current and past; we seem not to notice we are already creating a trail that anybody could be able to put together.

Not only police would use such traces if necessary:  already there have been cases in which people have been fired because their bosses found out they were posting their activities on the very days they reported as being sick. Divorces have been filed by the spouses that have found out email and chat conversations and histories between their ex-loved one and somebody else. There have even been cases that go to court in which a Second Life love or affair interferes with the real life… the implications are many and varied. Some of them are difficult to believe, and even more difficult to deal with.
But, coming back to the trail: do you realize that a lot of what you do on line is permanent (see Permanency) and has a date and time stamp attached?
That means that practically anybody can follow your on-line history. Are you one of those people that post practically everything around you at any moment and place? Do you allow your devices to automatically post your location at a particular time?
Is all that really good? Does it benefit you? Does it benefit anybody?

I’m not trained on anything related to police or private investigation, yet I know some people I could recreate their everyday activities with better accuracy than what a police investigator could have come with just ten years ago. Worse, a stalker or similar likeminded individual can do that too.

So, what would the real implications of allowing governments to be able to retrace our steps be? Aren’t your acquaintances so aware of our daily activities already?
Technologically, it is possible to log everyone’s actions through our devices’ addresses, applications and even coordinates. The ISPs and telecommunication companies we pay for those services count on tools that would allow police or any other entity know about our online activities very accurately, to the second.
However, what we seem to be against if precisely Big Brother watching over our shoulders. We seem to be content letting everybody else know what we want them to know, despite the fact that we are letting way more people than intended know about it.

Allowing police to monitor activities would help capture kidnappers, child pornographers, fraudulent transactions and many more criminal activities. It would be a matter of perhaps minutes as opposed to months of investigations and evidence gathering.

So, what exactly are we against when we hear about the possible imposition of such measures?
Where do you stand?
What is your take?

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